Thought for the Day – 9 November – Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran – “omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput…the Mother and head of all the Churches of the City and the World.”
Saint Augustine gives us a few a ideas to meditate on: “‘Jerusalem that is being built as a city.’ When David was uttering these words, that city had been finished, it was not being built. It is some city he speaks of, therefore, which is now being built, unto which living stones run in faith, of whom Peter says, ‘You also, as living stones, are built up into a spiritual house, that is, the holy temple of God’. What does it mean, you are built up as living stones? You live, if you believe, but if you believe, you are made a temple of God; for the Apostle Paul says, ‘For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple’.”
Unlike the commemorations of other Roman churches, this anniversary is a Feast. The dedication of a church is a Feast for all its parishioners. In a sense, St John Lateran is the parish church of all Catholics because it is the Pope’s Cathedral. This church is the spiritual home of the people who are the Church.
We celebrate the dedication of this Church as the seat of the Bishop of Rome from which all other pastoral authority is derived. We honour the anniversary of a church’s dedication because a church gives full voice to the sacred Liturgy. The feast of the dedication gives full acceptance and capacity to live the ancient theological principle, legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi (the law of belief given through the law of prayer, or even more of short-hand, the law of prayer is the law of belief).
O God, who out of living and chosen stones, builds up an everlasting dwelling-place for Your Majesty – help Your people, who humbly pray to You and whatever material room Your Church may set apart for Your worship, let it bring also spiritual increase.